mitten interlude

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I’m still working on my Elle Melle (current ridge count: 15), but I’ve taken a little break the past 2 days for mittens! I’ll start with the still-in-progress ones:

Why yes, I am making the Vulcan salute - all the better to show off my in-progress mittens!

Yes, I know I’m an honest-to-goodness decade behind the times here, but I’ve always loved the Fiddlehead Mittens pattern, and I decided they’d be the perfect thing to make with the Bartlettyarns Worsted mini-skein set I picked up at Rhinebeck this past fall:

Never showed off my Rhinebeck purchase!

I’m using the 5 colors that are in “front” in that photo, along with a skein of icy blue Lettlopi as the Main Color:

Ok, so I'm like, a decade too late with these, but I'm pretty excited about my Fiddlehead Mittens-in-progress. Bartlettyarns (worsted) mini-skeins from Rhinebeck plus a skein of icy blue Lettlopi.

The Bartlettyarns is not exactly a *light* worsted, so these are knitting up pretty dense, but I like a good “bulletproof” mitten for Western NY winter – they’ve got to stand up to shoveling! And look, they stand up just fine ;)

Stands up on its own!

I’m not gonna lie, though – the i-cord cast on damned near broke me (and literally blistered my right index finger!), and I’m kind of dreading doing it again for mitten number 2. But these are gonna be so pretty!

I knit a whole other pair of mittens in the past 2 days, too – new red mittens for M, to match her hat!

I finished M's new mittens! (Knit one yesterday, one today!)
(Yes, Peg + Cat, both the show and the books, is a HUGE obsession in this house!)

I had knit her a replacement pair a few weeks ago, but in a bout of overconfidence, decided that I could just “estimate” her size based on her previous pair. I overestimated by more than a little bit, so this time around, I actually used my pattern (which I should really publish soon!), along with a tracing of her hand.

Re-knitting M's mittens; my "I'll just guess at measurements" version turned out way too big so I'm actually following my own pattern directions (fancy that!) this time. Oh, hey, I should publish the pattern (for the mittens and matching hat) soon, eh?

These new mittens are perfect – just a little roomy, which means there’s space for them to felt down a bit! Now she doesn’t have to wear her tiny old ones anymore!

Untitled

Look how felted those old mittens had gotten! I expect these new ones will eventually look similar.

starting a new sweater before the New Year

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I cast on for a new sweater a few days ago, in two shades of Classic Elite “Mohawk” yarn:

Loving my Elle Melle (in progress)

What you’re seeing there is actually my second attempt, because my first attempt was turning out to be WAY too wide. It’s a grown-up version of Elle Melle, part of my mission to *actually* knit all the things I keep saying that I’m going to knit (seriously). (Note that I’ve talked about doing this in no fewer than 4 previous posts!)

Grown up Elle Melle progress.

The Elle Melle pattern obviously does not include grown-up sizes, but I’m only a bit bigger than the 12yo size, and I’m good at math. (At least, I’m good at it the SECOND time I do it!) Though I spoke of changing it from a raglan to set-in sleeves in those posts I linked to, I’m actually coming around to leaving it as a raglan, because while raglans in general are not necessarily the BEST design for me (given my broad-for-my-petite-frame shoulders), I kind of feel like the angle of the contrast sleeve is an inherent part of what I *like* about the look of the cardigan.

One thing I *don’t* like the look of, at least for me, is the somewhat “balloon-ish” hem in the original pattern – I think that’s a cute look on a little kid, but wouldn’t function so well on a person who has hips and a waist (not that I have MUCH in the way of hips or waist, but I’m curvier than a little kid!). But I also like for the hem to be a VERY firm garter stitch, so instead of using one needle size smaller for the hem, I used one two sizes smaller – a size 2! But I got the hem I wanted, over 230sts:

Elle-Melle bottom hem.

Then, instead of increasing (as the pattern calls for), I decreased down to 220 stitches (which should give me a ~36″ circumference) for the body. The end result is a hem that just barely pulls in from the body, which is exactly what I wanted!

Grown-Up Elle Melle in progress

I absolutely adore the texture of Elle Melle – the 2 color “corrugation” is just so delightful to knit, and it’s also very easy to keep track of (which I appreciate, because my brain still feels pretty fried). I’ve got 10 dark ridges so far, and I’m thinking that I’ll need around 25 or so to have the length I want for the body before dividing for the yoke. This is actually the first sweater I’ve ever knit for myself in anything less than worsted weight – a sweater at 6sts/inch definitely takes much longer! But I think it’s going to be worth it.

winter solstice, 2016

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Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice, everyone! It feels a bit strange to say, “Brighter days are ahead!”, even though that is literally true (and thank goodness for that), because I think it’s hard to argue that we’re not headed for some metaphorically dark days. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you read this Sarah Kendzior piece: “We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump.”

Let’s be each other’s lights, too, in the coming year, friends. Support each other. Love each other. Hang on to what is true, and hold tight to our values. Fight the darkness. Resist it. Keep making, keep doing good. Remember that Winter, though dark, is not a time of death – it is a time when seeds lay in wait to bloom. Don’t lose hope.

Peace, love, and kindness to all. Shine on!

i made a cowl

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(First: Thank you, everyone, for your comments on my last post. I’m still heartbroken and angry and afraid, but it is good to know that I am not alone and that we are going to fight for the good of our country, our world, and our collective future, together. Thank you.)

I cast on for a cowl last Friday, and just over a week later, it is finished. As you may remember, I’ve been on a mission to increase my supply of “neck adornment devices” this year, and I’ve been working on an Imogen Cowl since this summer. But in the wake of the election, I just did not have it in me to keep track of the delightful but complicated stitch pattern on that project, and decided that I needed something far simpler to keep my hands busy while my mind reeled…but I still wanted to end up with a cowl. I had a beautiful skein of MadTosh Twist Light, so needed to find something that would work with fingering weight yarn. Scanning through my Queue on Ravelry, I spotted the Willow Cowl pattern, and thought it might be just right. And it was.

I love my Willow Cowl! (Yarn is MadTosh Twist Light in "Mandala")

 

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Willow Cowl
Yarn: MadTosh Twist Light in “Mandala”
Needles: Size 5 (I think? I should check – they might’ve actually been 6’s) 20″ circular
Time to knit: 8 days

This was absolutely the perfect knit for me right now…the pattern was delightfully simple to follow, and the knitting experience was as meditative as I’d hoped for. The construction of the cowl is very clever…there are stockinette sections between the eyelet sections that sort of “sink away” when the cowl is worn, letting those eyelet sections stack gorgeously.

Showing off the neat construction

 

It was cracking me up, while I was knitting, watching how long the cowl was turning out to be, but it lays so perfectly once I put it on.

New Willow Cowl! (With Little Wave Cardigan)

 

I love the way it matches my Little Wave cardigan, though it also looks nice with just a long-sleeved tee:

Cowl sans cardigan.

 

It was too chilly to be cardigan-less for long, though! With Winter on its way, I suspect the “buttoned up” look is what I’ll be sporting more often:

All buttoned up with my new cowl.

 

The “Mandala” colorway is so gorgeous! It matches a lot of what I tend to wear, though of course now I’m wishing I had a bunch more colors of MadTosh Twist Light to make even more of these cowls. But I’m pretty firmly committed to buying as little yarn as possible in the coming year; I’ve got enough yarn to happily knit sweaters and shawls and cowls for me and for M for probably two straight years, so if I can stop getting distracted by every shiny new pattern and yarn, I’m all set. I’m also wanting to focus my energies on making donations to groups that are doing good work in this frightening new future we are headed towards – the ACLU, the SPLC, Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, RESCUE.org, the Sierra Club…goodness gracious there are so many, and then there are the groups right here in my own community that could use both my money and my energy. I don’t need more yarn. I do need to be able to support groups that I care about, and work towards building up more of a cushion for my own family’s finances. So I’ll be working on finding (or making up) patterns to go with all of the yarn that I have, and gradually working down my stash.

I also plan to integrate crafting and my values in another way, through stitching. I’ve long wanted to do an embroidery series where I stitch words representing my values, and I feel like I’ve been spurred into action on that front now. So expect to see a different sort of stitching appear from time to time, along with posts unpacking what those words mean to me.

this is not normal

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subtle stripes

I’m trying, EZ. I’m trying. But I actually haven’t knit a stitch since Wednesday morning.

Though this is ostensibly a knitting blog, I’m going to write about politics. I’ve never actually understood the impulse to keep politics under wraps, to behave as though discussing politics is “impolite”, to try to treat it as though it is somehow secondary to “real life”. It IS life. And I’ve always felt that treating politics in this way, as a topic not fit for polite conversation, is part of what allows for it to be treated as a mere abstraction. Of course it can only be treated as a mere abstraction, a game, when none of the policies being proposed, the decisions being made, when none of that actually impinges upon you as a person. But for so many people, that has never been true – politics has never been an abstraction, never been just a game. It can’t be, when you actually have skin in the game. And I was raised to treat everyone’s livelihood and wellbeing as bound up with my own, so to me it does not matter if I personally benefit if that requires others to be held down or left behind.

So I think you can guess where I stand on what happened a week ago in my country. This is a nightmare made real.

I come from a family of progressives; my dad’s parents have been activists for civil rights, social justice, and the environment their entire lives, and my family has always been deeply involved as well. Growing up, my family’s tradition was to wear black after an election loss. Because losses mean grieving. And as liberals in 1980s/early 90’s North Carolina, losses were plenty. The first one I remember deeply was Harvey Gantt, who lost to Jesse Helms in 1990, when I was 7. We’d volunteered with Gantt’s campaign, and my 7 year old social justice warrior self was so horrified by the racism of the Helms campaign. I thought that surely people would vote against that. They didn’t.

I didn’t sleep Tuesday night. I was too nervous to sleep, when I saw where things were heading, and once I knew where they’d gone, there was no sleeping, just crying and shaking, filled with dread, about the future of our country but more immediately, about having to break my daughter’s heart in the morning. She had proudly voted with me that evening, and I even let her fill in the circle for the woman we thought would be our president.

The photo I took right when we got home, under our porch light, because it was dark at 5:30pm when we voted. Just wait, it'll be dark at 4:30 come December. I already miss daylight.

She had gone to bed with confidence that Hillary would be our next president. Ever since watching parts of the DNC convention with us, she’d been very much “with her.” She asked me Wednesday morning how Donald Trump could have won. “He’s a bully who doesn’t love everyone – shouldn’t everyone have voted against him?” Oh, sweetie, you aren’t wrong…but they didn’t. Oh, honey, sometimes the good person loses. But that doesn’t stop us being good, working for good, doing good. We’ve just gotta love that much harder to beat the hate.

But I am grieving. I’m grieving the loss of the future I imagined for Madrigal, now made precarious by a thin-skinned narcissistic bully who will be Commander in Chief, by a president and congress that will not take seriously the threat of climate change during this critical juncture, and which will seek to dismantle our social safety nets, by the racism and misogyny that has been normalized, and by a Supreme Court which may well work to strip our children of rights rather than expand them. I’m grieving the fact that instead of shattering the glass ceiling, we’ve shattered our loving, caring, compassionate hearts. I’m grieving for all of the little girls who had that future robbed from them, and for all the little boys (and their parents) who are now growing up in a world where toxic masculinity is coming straight from the White House; our work teaching consent and respect in relationships is now even more urgent. I’m grieving for the soul of my country, which was even more rotten than I’d imagined…and I’d imagined it to be quite rotten. I never doubted that it was possible for Trump to win the presidency, and was frustrated by how easily nearly every one I knew dismissed this possibility. I believed with all my heart that Hillary would win, but knew it was possible that she wouldn’t. But knowing it was possible, and knowing it is reality, those are two very different things.

If this were another Republican, a competent one (I’m actually struggling a bit here to come up with a name beyond “Mitt Romney”), I would likely have the very same fears about what’s likely to be dismantled under single-party rule, with Paul Ryan at the helm. I would almost certainly be just as fearful about my daughter’s future, about inaction (or negative action) on climate change, about the elimination or privatization of the social safety net.

The difference is that the notion of Donald Trump as the President of my country offends me deeply. Embarrasses me – hearing “President-elect Trump” and knowing that he will be taking on the position that Obama has held, imperfectly but with such humanity, grace, and dignity, brings me to tears every time. How embarrassing and shameful for us as a country. Shakes me to my core. And what frightens me is that we’ve now decided, as a country, that there is nothing that can disqualify you from the presidency. We have said that we do not care about experience, intelligence, or any sort of qualification. We have normalized a horrifying level of crassness, and the active celebration of the worst aspects of humanity, and I think that spells doom for us. We have said that you can have absolutely no experience with government, and surround yourself with those loyalists who likewise have no experience with government (and who are actively stoking hate the way that Steve Bannon does), you can be completely uninterested in learning and listening, and you can be racist and misogynist and xenophobic and have the explicit support of hate groups like the KKK…you can be all of those things and still be granted all of the immense power of the presidency. Decency is not a check on anything anymore. And I think without decency and respect for traditions as a check on behavior, there are no limits (honestly, these seem like conservative values and ideas to me – so why aren’t conservatives making this argument? Why did they not stop Trump? Why are they not standing up to him now? I know the answer, but it is a shameful one, that puts power and party above the good of the country.)

This frightens me deeply, and I do not know how we ever get our decency back. Once you have installed Donald Trump, whose list of “should’ve been disqualifying” statements and actions is so long as to be practically infinite, how can you ever prevent a terrible, dangerous candidate from being elected again? What on earth could disqualify them? We’ve demonstrated how fragile our institutions and traditions are, that they can succumb to an inexperienced, intellectually incurious demagogue like Trump. I suppose we can be grateful that Trump seems to be a rather incompetent demagogue, because as bad as things are likely to get (and I think they are likely to get quite bad), a more adept demagogue could do so, so much more damage. And how would we stop one from arising, if nothing is disqualifying now? (Except, apparently, not handling your email perfectly? Or is it just, “being a woman”?)

I don’t know what to do right now, but I am resolute in declaring that this is NOT normal, and I refuse to allow it to become my normal. I will resist, and hold on to my values, and live them in the world (like the UU that I am). I remain committed to truth, to openness, to inclusion, to compassion, to respect, to generosity, to kindness, to love. I will insist that we not try to comfort ourselves by saying “it’ll all be ok, there are checks and balances” when as a country, we’ve basically voted to eliminate all checks and balances, both those built into our systems of government and those baked into our sense of common decency. I will be comforted by those who acknowledge with me that it is NOT going to be “ok”, and help me plan how to fight to make it the least bad that we possibly can, to protect the most people from harm. Or, to use Hillary Clinton’s words, to do all the good we can, for all the people we can, in all the ways we can, as long as ever we can. Fighting for what’s right is worth it, it is always worth it.

Madrigal, I am so sorry. I am so sorry for what this country has done to your future. I am going to work so hard to try to contain the damage, to hold on to hope that we can build a better future.

I made a me-sized sweater, y’all!

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And it fits and it’s beautiful and I love it!

I wanted to take nice FO shots of my Little Wave cardigan at Rhinebeck, but that didn't work out (the ones A took were blown out from the bright sun, alas). So instead of lovely autumn leaves, you get our trashcan and failed container garden in the backgr

I had hoped to get some nice FO shots of this sweater at Rhinebeck, but that didn’t work out…the ones my husband took were blown out from the bright sun, alas! So instead of lovely autumn leaves, y’all get our trashcan and failed container garden in the background. Oh well! It’s still an awesome sweater. Here are the details:

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Little Wave, by Gudrun Johnston
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in Amethyst
Needles: Size 8s
Time to Knit: a couple of months, really? I just took forever to weave in the ends and sew on buttons.

Here it is from the back:

Little Wave, from the back.

I just could not get enough of that stitch pattern – it was delightfully fun to knit!

Here’s what it looks like worn open, which is how I’ll probably wear it most of the time:

Little Wave, worn open (which is probably how I'll wear it most of the time)

I think the Cascade 220 has a bit more drape to it when knit at this gauge than Shelter (this isn’t surprising, given the differences in how the two yarns are spun), which resulted in some extra length. I’m fine with that, because I like the longer, roomier fit, but it’s the first time ever that following the written directions for sleeves resulted in sleeves that are TOO long for me! (I’ve got disproportionately long arms – like, the arms of a 5’9 person, but I’m 5’4 at the most). Sometime I’d love to knit this pattern again in a “sturdier” yarn, like perhaps Bartlettyarns Worsted, just for a denser feel. But I do love the way this cardigan looks and feels.

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve finished a me-sized sweater. I’ve got another one that’s nearing completion, too – my brown Stripes! cardigan. I’d really like to work towards replenishing my own sweater collection, but I can’t neglect my daughter’s desire for sweaters…it’s just so wonderful to have a child who genuinely appreciates the things I knit for her! If only she’d stop growing so darned fast!

Rhinebeck 2016 (M’s FIFTH Rhinebeck!)

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I edited this version to be a bit brighter - still learning how to get the right color balance/exposure/etc on the PEN camera.

As you probably already know if you’re a knitter on the Internet, this weekend was RHINEBECK! And since we live “only” about 5 hours away from the festival, and we really enjoy taking a little trip down to the Hudson River Valley region this time of year, we took our little family of three there for the 5th time. We actually went twice before M was born, too, but our last four Rhinebeck visits have been with M in tow. This year was the first year we went sans stroller (our stroller is pretty much kaput after several summers of walking 5k a day with an increasingly large child) or carrier (because M’s well over the 45lb weight limit on ours), and let’s just say that was…challenging.

We actually did our trip differently this year; we were able to leave in the morning (instead of mid-day) on Friday, and thus were able to do our beloved Walkway Over the Hudson visit on Friday evening. M insisted on being “twinsies” with me on Friday, and wore her (now almost too small) yoked kangaroo pocket vest that I knit for her a couple of years ago to match my Cobblestone sweater. Aren’t we cute?

I broke my PT's "no more M-carrying" rule to take our traditional photo on the Walkway. #latergram

I broke my Physical Therapist’s “no more M-carrying” rule to take that photo – it turns out that carrying a nearly 50lb kid around on my right hip all the time (because of my left sciatic nerve issues) was pulling my left shoulder blade way out of alignment and I was starting to have a lot of pain and numbness in my ulnar nerve, all the way down to my pinky. But I just couldn’t resist having one to match the one we took our very first year with M on the Walkway:

Walkway Over The Hudson

It was VERY windy on the Walkway (it always is, and I always forget!), so most of our photos are pretty windblown.

Me and my girl on the Walkway #latergram

She got time with Daddy, too, sometimes walking hand-in-hand:

My loves. #latergram

And sometimes riding on his back, which gave her a great view of the beautiful Hudson River:

Looking out over the Hudson with daddy. #latergram

She insisted on wearing her hat and mitten set from last year. Or was it the year before that? In any case, they’ve gotten too small, but that didn’t stop her – and of course she had to clip in the kitty ears (which to my eye, look more like sheep ears), too. What a cutie!

Maddy-Kitty on the Walkway Over The Hudson.

The next day was the Sheep and Wool festival. Madrigal has been excited about this for the past several months – she remembers last year’s, and was very gung-ho about seeing llamas in particular, but all of the fiber animals.

We're here!

We also decided to give her a small allowance this year (because she’s become rather acquisitive, and we hoped to avoid too much of the “wanties” by giving her power with limits on her purchasing). She decided that she wanted a sheep stuffed animal to bring home, and she found the very best, softest one at the Bartlettyarns booth (where I also picked up a sampler of worsted weight yarns, which somehow went unphotographed). She actually remembered from last year that Bartlettyarns was my favorite booth! Here she’s posing with “Baba” (the name she gave her lamb) on her head on the benches on the hill:

Maddy's showing off "Baba the lamb", which she purchased with her allowance money at the Bartlettyarns booth.

It was tough to get those bench photos this year – it felt a lot more crowded than past years, and M was kind of on another planet in terms of paying attention to the fact that daddy was trying to take pictures. She wore her red striped pocket sweater to the festival (the sleeves have already gotten too short on it because she is growing like a weed!), and I wore my Little Wave cardigan (which will get its own post soon).

We of course had to spend some time listening to the always-present pan flute band, which M loves (though I’m mostly posting THIS photo so that you can see how lovely the set-in sleeves look on M’s sweater, ha!)…

Wool loving girl, listening to pan flutes with daddy :) #latergram

This kid loves pan flute music!

This kid loves pan flute music. Also, her eyes are so brown and beautiful! Would've never guessed I'd have a brown-eyed girl. #latergram

See what I mean about those ears looking like sheep-ears? She kinda matched this one she watched getting shorn:

Watching a sheep get shorn. She kinda had matching ears to this one! #latergram

We ended our festival time with a visit to the balloon man, who made M an alien hat:

My little weirdo with her alien balloon hat. #latergram

Then it was back in the car to drive home – we only stayed one night this time, which made it quite a whirlwind trip, but I think it was more manageable this way (and certainly cheaper, because holy moly do the hotels in the area jack up rates for this weekend!). On the way home, I cast on for a new red hat for M:

Starting a new hat for M on the way home.

Because we were driving straight into the sunset for most of the way home, I didn’t make a ton of progress in the car, but I’ve now finished the increases, so she’ll definitely have a better-fitting hat come wintertime.

So that was Rhinebeck, 2016. I didn’t get to see as many people as in previous years (and even when I saw people, I barely got to talk to them, because M-chasing), and I’m not 100% sure we’ll continue doing this every year. It was pretty trying this year, but I’m hoping that perhaps we were at peak difficulty, with it being M’s first year without a stroller or carrier.

My university is currently on Fall Break (Monday and Tuesday), which means I’m catching up on work, mostly, but also trying to get a little bit of restorative time in, because holy moly, it’s been a rough fall.